Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Last Call For Pissing Off Donald

I was wondering when the contents of what the Russians presumably had on Trump would leak, and it looks like that nasty bit of business dropped tonight as multiple news outlets are reporting that Trump was indeed confronted by the nation's top intelligence directors with the knowledge that the Russians had compromising material on him.

Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN. 
The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump. 
The classified briefings last week were presented by four of the senior-most US intelligence chiefs -- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. 
One reason the nation's intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN. 
These senior intelligence officials also included the synopsis to demonstrate that Russia had compiled information potentially harmful to both political parties, but only released information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Democrats. This synopsis was not an official part of the report from the intelligence community case about Russian hacks, but some officials said it augmented the evidence that Moscow intended to harm Clinton's candidacy and help Trump's, several officials with knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.

That's bad enough.  What this compromising material is, and the relationship the Trump campaign supposedly had with the Russians in order to leak information on the Clinton campaign?  That's far, far worse.

An official in the US administration who spoke to the Guardian described the source who wrote the intelligence report as consistently reliable, meticulous and well-informed, with a reputation for having extensive Russian contacts.

Some of the reports – which are dated from 20 June to 20 October last year – also proved to be prescient, predicting events that happened after they were sent.

One report, dated June 2016, claims that the Kremlin has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least five years, with the aim of encouraging “splits and divisions in western alliance”.

It claims that Trump had declined “various sweetener real estate deals offered him in Russia” especially in developments linked to the 2018 World Cup finals but that “he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.”

Most explosively, the report alleges: “FSB has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him.” The president-elect has not responded to the allegations.

And then the information gets into, well, actual treason.  The kind where Trump's folks met with Russian agents in Prague to work out the details.

Apparently this story has been shopped around for months now as opposition research against Trump, but none of the media outlets in America would touch it.  None.  It may mean it's utter fiction.  But CNN is apparently running with it now, as is BuzzFeed and the Guardian.

If this is false, then the media has failed us one last time.

If this is true, well....the media failed us one last time.

Either way, we're screwed.

There's No Vaccine For Stupid

Just a reminder that there are terrible, non-scientific people on the left as well as the right, and while climate change denial is certainly something that the Trump administration will be chastised over for decades, it looks like the Orange-elect is into eating from the anti-vaccine dumpsters as well.

Donald Trump will meet Tuesday with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent skeptic of vaccines for children, suggesting that the president-elect continues to believe a widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. 
The meeting was announced by a spokesman for the Trump transition team, Sean Spicer, who said that the two would discuss vaccines Tuesday at Trump Tower, in New York. 
Trump notably expressed support for the theory at a Republican presidential debate in 2015. 
“You take this little beautiful baby, and you pump . . .” he said of vaccinating children. “We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.” 
The comments were widely denounced by medical professionals who say that there is no evidence that vaccines lead to autism. In fact, the study that popularized the idea has been retracted and discredited as fraudulent. Multiple high-quality studies have found no link between vaccines and autism.

Trump was apparently very open to RFK, Jr's nonsense, so apparently we're now going to have a presidential commission on this idiocy.

President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and skeptic of vaccines, to chair a presidential commission on vaccine safety, Kennedy said Tuesday. 
The two have questioned whether vaccines cause autism, a claim consistently debunked by medical professionals across the board. 
The commission will be designed "to make sure we have scientific integrity in the vaccine process for efficacy and safety effects," Kennedy told reporters after the meeting with Trump. 
Kennedy said Trump requested the meeting, and the president-elect "has some doubts about the current vaccine policies and he has questions about it. His opinion doesn't matter, but the science does matter and we ought to be reading the science and we ought to be debating the science."

Absolutely nothing good will come from this, mark my words.  If the official position of the Trump administration is that we shouldn't be vaccinating kids, then a lot of kids are going to get very sick and possibly die from things like measles, mumps, rubella and whooping cough, which are all preventable by diseases.

Even holding this commission is a ruthlessly evil idea, as parents are going to get the idea that vaccinations aren't safe and will refuse to do so with their kids.

Trump is just ridiculously terrible, and he's not even president yet.

Cory Throws The Booker At Jeff

I've had my differences with Cory Booker in the past (there's zero chance you end up a US senator from New Jersey without Wall Street money getting involved) but it looks like he's willing to start taking on Trump, beginiing with his "esteemed Senate colleague" Jeff Sessions.

Sen. Cory Booker is set to make history this week when he testifies before the Judiciary Committee against Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination for attorney general in hearings that begin Tuesday morning. 
Booker's office said Monday that the Senate historian had been unable to find any previous instance of a sitting senator testifying against a fellow sitting senator nominated for a Cabinet position. 
Noting that "I'm breaking a pretty long Senate tradition," the New Jersey Democrat said Monday on MSNBC's "All In": "We've seen Jeff Sessions — that's Senator Jeff Sessions — consistently voting against or speaking out against key ideals of the Voting Rights Act, taking measures to try to block criminal justice reform." 
"He has a posture and a positioning that I think represent a real danger to our country," Booker said.
In 1986, the Senate Judiciary Committee killed President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Sessions to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama after four former Justice Department colleagues testified that he had made racially offensive statements. 
Sessions, R-Alabama, turned the rejection into a launchpad for his political career. He was elected attorney general of Alabama before being elected in 1996 to the U.S. Senate, where he is considered among the more conservative members.

That's unheard of for a reason: Booker's not going to be making very many friends with this move. One has to wonder if he doesn't plan on being in the Senate too much longer, or if he has higher political aspirations.

Several other prominent African-American figures in addition to Booker also plan to testify against Sessions, including two members of the House: Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s; and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. 
The NAACP has also strongly opposed Sessions' nomination, calling him "a threat to desegregation and the Voting Rights Act."

According to prepared remarks obtained by NBC News, Sessions will testify that he understands "the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters." 
The only African-American Republican senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, said in a statement Monday that he would be supporting Session's nomination after placing "special emphasis" on the decision at a time of "racial and societal unrest like we have not seen in a generation." 
Scott said after doing his own homework, working with Sessions for four years and meeting with him personally, that he had determined Sessions to be a "consistently fair person" who is committed to upholding the Constitution.

I'm not under the naive impression that any of Trump's nominees will be blocked.  Frankly I expect Sessions to sail through and get plenty of Democrats voting for him, particularly those Democrats in red states like Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly.  To his credit, Ohio's Sherrod Brown says he'll already oppose Sessions regardless.  But I think he'll still end up getting at least 60 votes.

The one nominee who may actually be in trouble is Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, her hearing has already been delayed until next week over serious financial and ethical questions.

But we'll see what Booker can do here.


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